Disneyland Paris castle

I didn’t know that Disneyland has been open for more than 20 years. I didn’t know the Eurotunnel had been open 20 years, it’s a cliche but it seems like yesterday …

Once the idea of taking the girls had taken root in our minds and husband was busy searching for campsites near Disneyland Paris on the ‘puter we were allowed to start getting excited. We decided not to tell the girls until the very last moment possible as we couldn’t bear 8 months of, ‘Are we going to Disneyland yet?’

Disneyland Paris

We booked our tickets online and paid around £200 for them for entrance to 1 park for 1 day, we thought if we needed more days we could buy extra in France. In fact the Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont sold the tickets and at a glance they seemed slightly cheaper than what we had paid online.

We also used the campsite’s coach service for our day out and that cost an extra €60 for the four of us. If you choose to drive yourself a day parking costs around €15.

Disneyland Paris

We arrived early, able to enter the park but not to start using the rides, the first hour is for hotel guests only. We had to wait before entering Fantasyland and at 10am sharp the tannoys announced the opening of the day in a host of languages and then everyone was allowed through.

We made a beeline for the Royal Invitation as I knew the girls would love to meet a ‘real’ princess. Whilst I queued up with all of the family tickets to hand dad took the girls off on a couple of the rides, teacups and Flying Dumbo. By the time I reached the front of the queue I was handed my ticket for 14.25.

Disneyland paris

We decided to book into Peter Pan with our Fast Passes and were given 11.55 time slots so off we went to start queuing. It was August and it was packed, we just had to queue up and get on with it.

As we walked from one ride to the next we came across various Disney characters, luckily I had already heard about this and was well prepared with our autograph books and pens. the girls were tickled pink to bump into Alice and the Mad Hatter.

Disneyland Paris

We later queued up to meet Peter Pan and Wendy but got two slots away when we were told they had to go  but Captain Cook and Mr Smee would be here to take their place. The tears we had!

We remained in our queue and waited patiently.

Unlucky the French dad who pushed his boys in front of my girls to meet Captain Cook when it was our turn, as I pulled (gently) his boys back saying ‘No no no, we have been waiting there is a queue’. Which he could see but chose to ignore. The French dad and mum were n’amused pas to have been caught out and told me to, ‘Be happy!’ making smile movements with their hands across their miserable faces.

I’ll be a lot happier if people like you don’t push in! Grrrrr, it was like a red rag to a bull.

Be prepared for pusher inners and don’t be trodden on or over. We had to tackle various pushy parents throughout the day all queue jumpers (I do love Great Britain and our orderly queues).

Disneyland Paris a Royal Invitation

As time for our Royal Invitation approached we made our way over, you will not be allowed to go through the barriers until your time is reached, not even 5 minutes earlier and once you do get through you will join a queue, in our case a 75 minute queue.

Now, although dad stamped his feet at the thought of a 75 minute wait when he could be enjoying the rides in the park, the girls totally loved meeting Sleeping Beauty, talking to her and getting her autograph. It was worth it.

Sleeping Beauty

We visited the castle, we visited the shop and bought some souvenirs with the girls birthday money and as 5.30 approached dad took stand on the roundabout in front of the castle to get a good view for the daily parade.

This is an appointment it’s worth getting ready for and although we were facing the castle and had a good view, a better view would almost have certainly been to our right in front of the road where the parade comes from.

Disneyland Paris Frozen float

Once the parade was over the girls were getting tired so we head off to Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast in Discoveryland. This is a cool ride where you each have a laser which you shoot at markers as you travel around accumulating points. Dad was doing very well with his points, thousands ahead of me and so happy with himself but then unfortunately the ride kept breaking down and too my delight I discovered if I kept the gun shooting at the same marker over and over and over well, I unbelievably clocked up 132,000 points much to dad’s annoyance – I told him my tactics afterwards. He called me a cheat. :)

We finished our day with a short train ride to Main Street and a delicious hot dog in Casey’s Corner.

A fantastic day which we hope to repeat sometime when the girls are a bit older and out of high season too.

Disneyland Paris Parade

Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont

It all started at the beginning of the year in cold January when husband and I were thinking ahead to summer 2014 and wondering where to go. We were going to go to France again after such a successful trip to Honfleur in Normandy last year and we wanted to see if we could possibly take the girls to EuroDisney now known as Disneyland Paris.

Husband typed in campsites near Disneyland Paris and up came a list including Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont in Berny Rivière. As we wanted to spend two weeks there we were on the lookout for a 4/5 star campsite with swimming pools, activities, bars, restaurants and a shop.

We loved what we read and booked up, here’s how we got on.

camping la croix du vieux pont swimming complex

Booking

We booked direct with the campsite as we were taking our caravan, this was our first obstacle as although the 10% deposit was deducted from our account we never received an email confirmation. Only after telephoning did we receive something to say we were booked in on the right dates.

Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont has many different types of accommodation, there are various fields for camping with tents, caravans or camper vans both with and without electricity. Major companies Eurocamp, Canvas, Venue and Lifestyle Holidays also offer tents, safari tents, mobile homes and there is also the option of a detached wooden lodge with Canvas.

camping la croix du vieux pont toddler pool

Directions

We downloaded directions from Google and used the sat nav too and towards the end we were afraid we had gone terribly wrong as we were driving along quiet country roads that were hardly roads at all but tarmac’ed trails. We did get there but decided to go along the motorway for an easier drive back home rather than return through the countryside towing a caravan.

Site plan

The site of Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont is enormous and you will definitely be stretching your legs whilst there. We are very glad we took the girls bikes with us as it saved a lot of walking for them. We were assigned a plot in the Petit Bois which is close to the beach area but meant a good 10 minute walk to reach the swimming pool and more to get to reception and the shop.

Pitches

Arrivals after midday, departures before midday.

camping la croix du vieux pont

You can choose a pitch with or without electricity. There are various camping areas all over the site, we were allocated a corner pitch in Alleé du petit bois but on walking around the site we discovered Alleé du Grands Barbecue and Alleé du Rond Barbecues and should we ever return we’d ask to have one of these pitches which are closed in by hedges and also have a private brick built barbecue. On asking at reception for information I discovered that you have to book very early (December/January) to get one of these.

camping la croix du vieux pont

Washrooms

There are plenty positioned around the site and some are busier than others, our closest washroom was near the beach and therefore saw a lot of traffic. The campsite cleaned three times a day but in mid August it still got messy quickly. We discovered by walking a bit further we could use a much cleaner bathroom.

camping la croix du vieux pont

Reception, shop and bakery

Everyone working on reception speaks perfect English and are incredibly helpful with all enquiries. The shop is reasonably priced and has a good selection of food and products, the bakery has fresh bread and pastries daily.

There is an Intermarché supermarket only 5 minutes from the site.

Laundry, carwash, cashpoint, boutique

I used the laundry on two occasions and found it to be sufficient but not a perfect wash. The tokens you need are bought at reception, they also have singular soap tabs if you don’t have any. The washing machine took about 45 minutes and is a large capacity. The dryer also took 45 minutes but for towels and thick t shirts I used two tokens.

The boutique onsite has a range of toys, floatables, postcards and souvenir items. It also sells newspapers

camping la croix du vieux pont

Bars, restaurants and take away

By the beach there is a bar/restaurant called Macao Beach. You can also access their wifi whilst you sit in the bar area. Delicious ice creams, cocktails, beer and snacks for sale. We didn’t try the restaurant but heard good comments from neighbours who did.

By the swimming pool there is another bar and separate restaurant, again we didn’t try the restaurant but heard good reports. We visited the bar on a few occasions to take the girls to the kiddies disco where they had great fun. The bar display an entertainment schedule for guests to check including karaoke evenings, pub quiz and much more.

camping la croix du vieux pont soft play

There is a bowling alley and an upstairs soft play area which needs to be paid for downstairs.

There is a take away also near the swimming pool selling burgers and pizzas. We never used this as the queues were quite long with half an hour wait.

There is another bar on the side of the lake which serves, drinks, ice creams and food.

Sports and activities

Close to the lake there is an area with all sorts of activities for the children including Go karts, trampolining and kayaking on the lake. We enjoyed a half an hour pedalo trip with the girls one day and spotted many fishermen around the lake. (Fishing license compulsory and bought in the lakeside shop). There is also an enclosed room with 3/4 table tennis.

camping la croix du vieux pont

Close to the swimming pool there is an indoor 5 a side football pitch open to everyone.

You can hire bikes by the hour, morning or days.

Tennis courts and a beach volley ball area close to the beach. Also by the beach is a mini golf.

Just outside the campsite there are stables who do daily trekking with the horses and ponies. We took the girls for a guided hour trek around the village area and through the fields and they loved it.

pony riding france

Spa and beauty treatment

Sadly I didn’t have time to review this part of the site. :)

Organised trips

This is possibly why most of the guests come to Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont, the proximity to Paris and to Disneyland paris.

The site organise coach trips, as you check in they will normally tell you which days the excursions are being organised for. Once that coach is full they will put on another day.

Paris – I caught the coach at 7.50am and we arrived in Paris around 9.30am. The coach drops you off at about 800m from the Arc di Triomphe, it’s a 15 minute walk to reach the monument. The coach left Paris at 6.45pm and was back in Berny Riviere at around 8.15pm. Read more of my Paris in One Day

Paris rooftops

Disneyland Paris – The coach left at 7.50 and arrived about 9.30am, there is a good 10 minute walk from where the coach parks to the entrance of the parks. The coach left EuroDisney at 7.45pm meaning we were able to see the 5.30 parade but not the fireworks at 10.30pm.

Disneyland Paris castle

Both trips are reasonably priced and excellent service.

You can also buy your Disneyland paris tickets at reception at a very reasonable price.

Our verdict

We thought the campsite was very clean and well organised and it had everything you could possibly wish for. A lot of care goes into the gardens and the flowers are beautiful.

We noticed that circa 97% of the guests were British. If you’re looking to savour France this might not be the place for you.

This is an excellent campsite near Disneyland Paris offering lots to do on the days you’re on site. The swimming pools have chutes, slides and a lazy river plus an excellent water play are for the youngest members of the family. A perfect family holiday.

See the beautiful sunsets over the lake here.

Camping le croix du vieux pont sky

Image: The lake at Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, France perfect campsite near EuroDisney.

The sky is always there above us and it’s one factor I always keep in mind when I miss my Italian kids. I remember saying to them years ago, ‘When I miss you I shall look at the sky and know you can see the same as there is only one sky above us all’. I think all three of us still look at the sky to communicate before we jump on FB, WhatsApp or the phone.

I look up to the sky when I pray for important things.

I look up to the sky when I talk to my souls who have passed on. My dad’s been living up there since 2007, ‘watching down’ on me.

Heaven, for me, is in the sky. It’s where I will go when I leave this life. I’ll be in the sky, watching down on all my loved ones.

My Italian mother in law, Daria, passed away in summertime, I think it was 1999. She’d been suffering terribly and I had been lucky that she had let me assist her in those last few months and weeks she was with us. This was an enormous stamp of approval from her which I am so grateful for to this day. I remember visiting her in hospital on what was to be her final day, she’d given a nurse some money to buy biscuits and chocolates which she had on her bedside table.

I walked to her bed at visiting time and she used her head to point to the goods on her bedside table, she told me they were to be given to the nurses to thank them for all their hard work. My husband was with me, agitated and left the room to speak to a doctor. In his absence she said

“Goodbye Marianne.”

In my heart I knew it would be the last time I would ever see her and speak to her.

She passed away the next morning.

I saw to it that the biscuits and chocolates were given to the nurses who didn’t want to accept them in such a sad moment but I insisted knowing it had been her wish.

My children were in England that week and we never ‘ruined’ their holiday by telling them their beloved nonna had passed away keeping the news for their return when we could hug them too.

There was just one tiny thing I could say to them to make the blow a little softer.

You see, the day she passed away was in August, high season and our hotel was full of guests. When I had finished serving in the restaurant, after the tables had been relaid for breakfast, the floors swept and washed and the service kitchen put to rights once again, I stepped onto the balcony that runs around the restaurant and looked up at the sky for a quiet moment before heading back in to the busy bar. The sight I found took my breath away because never in my life before, nor since that night, had I seen so many starts out twinkling in the crisp, black mountain night.

So many stars.

‘Hello Daria.’ I said.

Whenever my children were feeling the loss of their nonna which often happened at bedtime I would pull back the curtains, open the shutters and show them the sky and tell them what I have told you adding, ‘Nonno Orlando was throwing a party for nonna Daria as he’d been missing her for so long.’ Which always raised a smile as everyone likes a party.

This week’s prompt for The Gallery 199 is The Sky.

We had a fabulous time on our holiday in France this year although the downgraded hurricane Bertha had messed about with the weather a bit making it very unpredictable, until the day we left of course! However, on a good day there were some stunning sunsets that lit up the sky with thousands of colours and which the lake reflected beautifully for me when I took my photo, like these ones, same lake two different nights.

sunset, sky, camping le croix du vieux pont france

Image: The lake at Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, France perfect campsite near Disneyland Paris.

Nip over to The Gallery 199 to see more skies.

the gallery photography sticky fingers

Paris rooftops

This year we chose to holiday close to Paris as it was time to introduce the twins to Disneyland Paris, we searched for campsites near to Disneyland Paris and Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont came up which is quite a mouthful but turned out to be the perfect solution.

We discovered they laid on coaches both to Disneyland Paris and also for day trips to Paris.

We decided that I would go on my own as we didn’t think it fair to drag two 6 year olds around a busy city for a long day, so dad stayed back at the campsite and I had a whole day On My Own to rediscover Paris in One Day #1dayinParis

The last time I was in Paris I was 19 and single, I met up with my boyfriend at the time and although we explored a bit we were more interested in the nightlife. This time was to be different.

I did a bit of research before going and there are various lists, top tens and advice out there. I wanted to make the most of my day and decided to go on a hop on hop off bus tour I opted for the one that included the cruise on the Seine too for an extra few euros (1 day adult pass = €38.00)

The Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont coach dropped us off 800 m from the Arc di Triomphe so my Paris in One Day started there.

Arc di Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

The monument stands in the middle of an ENORMOUS roundabout. In fact one beauty of Paris I noted is the roads, they are so wide and give such a feeling of space. There are steps leading down to underground passes to cross the roads and take you directly to the historic monument. My visit was on a Saturday, I had arrived in Paris early in the morning at around 9.30 and the queue was already growing alarmingly fast for those who wished to visit inside and reach the top of the building. As mine was such a rushed visit I opted out of visits this time round and just focused on the beauty outside.

arc de triomphe

The Arc di Triomphe is majestic and the eternal flame is a constant reminder of those lives lost in the battles throughout history.

Tour Eiffel

eiffel tower

I jumped on my Big Bus Tour and followed the route around deciding my second stop would be at the Eiffel Tower. It never ceases to amaze me how big the area is that the Eiffel Tower stands on. It’s bustling with people taking selfies with the new selfie sticks (the latest must-have gadget), queueing for tickets to go up – very big queues, (if you can book before please do as it will save you huge amounts of time).

There were also lots of street sellers with huge rings holding all different sized Eiffel Tower souvenirs, cheap ‘silk’ scarves and other popular items.

Again I chose not to go up this time however I would like to return one day and eat in the second floor restaurant.

The Tour Eiffel is also the departure point for the Seine River Cruise, so I exchanged my Big Bus add on ticket for a cruise one and joined another queue, it was now about 11.00 am.

Eiffel Tower

Seeing Paris from the river is enchanting and the bateau cruises along the river banks whilst you can listen to lots of information on speakers (inside the boat) or sit on top and take in the beauty of Paris.

Seine river cruise

 

It was here I saw my first glimpses of the bridges covered in ‘love locks’ which is all very pretty and sweet but the weight of the world’s love on the bridges is causing huge panels of these fabulous bridges to come away.

Paris is asking the lovers visiting Paris to stop ruining the historic bridges and to think of another way to claim their undying love. If you read the link above you’ll discover lovers are now targeting the Eiffel Tower where 40 locks have been removed recently, I can understand the frustration of the Parisiennes seeing their beautiful city being destroyed by this act of ‘love’. – STOP IT!

love locks in Paris

 

Galeries Lafayette

galeries lafayette

My third stop of the day was to visit the Galeries Lafayette, the ‘Harrods’ of Paris. I had spotted in a book a picture of the fabulous dome that sits in the centre of the building. I had to see it.

Walking amongst the stands in the store, including all of the top French names, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton where people where queueing (again) to get their hands on one of Nicolas Ghesquière’s bags, you arrive in the central part of the building which is an enormous open space.

I felt as if I was in a theatre with rows and rows of balconies looking down on me but the pièce della resistance was looking up at the dome.

Top tip: visit roof terrace on the 7th floor to get the view of the first photo above – breathtaking.

galeries lafayette

Musée du Louvre

Musee du Louvre

Back on my bus I followed the route listening to the very French music as I went, interspersed with nuggets of information of where we were along the way. My next stop was the Louvre museum, home of the famous Italian oil painting the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. I have seen this before on a previous visit so I wasn’t interested in going inside (But if I had been BOOK TICKETS ONLINE as the queues were silly long)

What most people remark on after seeing the Mona Lisa is how small the painting is.

For the first time I looked at the glass pyramid. It is quite odd in the middle of the old surrounding buildings but fits all the same. Urban legend has it that there are 666 pains of glass that go into making up the pyramid, something Dan Browne picked up in in his famous The Da Vince Code books.

 

As I waited for my Big Bus to come along I got to see the locks on the bridges close up and take a look at some painters displaying their pictures along the embankment.

musee du louvre

Notre Dame

notre dame paris

I arrived to a very busy square and an enormous queue to enter the Notre Dame. It is a free entrance and the queue moved fairly quickly but there were people jumping in, an Italian lady wants to thank her lucky stars she chose to jump in behind me and not in front as I can’t bear people who think they are better than the queue and would have given her a piece of my mind.

My walk around the cathedral of Notre Dame was beautifully accompanied by a choir practise making my visit all the more profound. It is a stunning building with beautiful stained glass windows, plenty of statues and history lining the walls and racks and racks of candles to light. I popped my €2 in the box and lit one for all my family.

To go up to the top of the cathedral you must exit the building and go to the side where you will find another queue. I believe there is a small cost but cannot be sure. However should I return to Paris a visit to the Gargoyles is on my list.

I also want to get my hands on a copy of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Disney. Megan I watched it over and over when she was little and it was one of our favourites.

notre dame paris

Laduree

laduree champs elysees

Founded in 1862, Ladurée make the best macarons in the world. Fact. I wanted to buy some to take home to enjoy with the family back at camp so I joined another queue and waited patiently my turn to enter this beautiful tea shop.

In fact it’s more than a tea shop, you can eat a meal on the terrace outside, you can have tea and pastries inside and there was also a bar.

The choice of macarons is phenomenal and there must have been 10 waiters and waitresses behind the bar serving. I was asked my order at the top of the queue and found my box made at the till. Each macaron costs €1.90.

laduree paris

King George V street cafe – Champs Elysées

I had little more than an hour to kill before my coach home left Paris and I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a glass of wine. I noted a seat free on the street cafe towards the top of the Champs Elysées and sat my weary self down. A waiter appeared from nowhere and I asked for a glass of white wine s’il vous plait. A Burgundy, monsieur advised with a knowing look and I thought it was an excellent suggestion so nodded whole heartedly in approval.

george V champs elysees

I enjoyed every sip and was very tempted to have another but with time ticking on and still a good 15 minute walk I decided against it THANK GOD! My bill came in at €13 for one glass of wine something I bet the owner of this gold car wouldn’t have a problem with, shame he didn’t stop and pick up the tab!

gold car in Paris

It was worth it, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic day and if you’re going to have a cappuccino on Saint Mark’s Square in Venice you’re going to pay for it, likewise for un vert du vin on the Champs Elysées. I did my best to not look like the exhausted tourist I clearly was and I refrained from downing my glass in one go to quench my thirst.

A perfect day and thanks to husband for looking after the girls for me that day. My only regret is I didn’t squeeze in Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur which holds a special fascination for me. I’ll have to go back.

Here are a few shots of my special day.

One day in Paris

As I made my way back to the coach I found a group of men in uniform about to parade down the Champs Elysées, a timely reminder of the importance of the Arc di Triomphe which stood at their shoulders. You can see them in the collage above top right.

 

I wonder if you, like me, automatically associate Normandy with World War II?

June 6th 1944

Was the day that Nazi-occupied France was invaded by British, American, Commonwealth and Canadian troops. The result of this enormous operation was the liberation of France.

Until our visit I was unaware of just how big a piece of land there is to cover and just how many monuments, museums and cemeteries there are to visit; so many it’s worth having a holiday just for this remembrance sightseeing tour.

However we managed to slot one beach into our Normandy holiday and we chose to visit Arromanches, the landing of the British troops.

I didn’t know quite what to expect and on our walk from the car park to the beach carrying buckets and spades, I worried that maybe we would be offending someone, after all so many people lost their lives at this very spot.

Fortunately as we turned the corner we were greeted with a beach full of families enjoying the glorious sunshine and lots of children digging holes and constructing palaces. What I hadn’t counted for was this sight waiting for me.

Arromanches normandy

The artificial Mulberry Harbour, a very stark reminder, testament to the ingenuity of Winston Churchill who realised that if the troops wanted to land they would have to bring their own harbour with them.

arromanches normandy

I left the girls and Paul to their busy building and strolled off across the beach to take some photos and see close up the massive hulks of iron strewn across the beach.

arromanches mulberry harbour

I noticed groups of divers jumping into boats, speeding out to see to inspect, who knows?

arromanches normandy

Operation Overlord

was the code name given to the Battle of Normandy. It began in 1943 and was led by General Eisenhower and Montgomery, D-Day was planned for the 5th June (1944) but was delayed for 24 hours due to bad weather, in fact the bad conditions and an attack further up the coast caught the Germans by surprise as at dawn break the Allied fleets landed accompanied by airborne forces from the east and west.

arromanches mulberry harbour

arromanches mulberry harbour

D-Day statistics

4000 ships in the fleet
5,800 bomber planes
4,900 fighter planes
153,000 troops
20,000 vehicles
11,000 casualties
2,500 dead
2,052,299 men came ashore following D-Day
3,098,259 tons of stores
640,000 Germans killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the Battle of Normandy

The town centre is a lively bustling place full of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops too, well worth a visit.

arromanches normandy town

 

Note on the horizon out to see the Mulberry Harbour can be seen

 

arromanches high street

 

American war postcards

american war postcards

 

and back on the beach another operation was also successfully coming to plan. Mission accomplished!

arromanches beach